A Refreshing Alternative to Our Top-Down Public Education System

By Steve BucksteinCascadeNewLogo

Many Oregon parents and teachers are standing up to oppose new high-stakes tests designed to measure how well public schools are teaching the controversial Common Core Standards. So-called Smarter-Balanced tests are on track to be given to students in grades three through eight and high school juniors to measure how well they’ve mastered reading, math, writing, listening, research, and thinking.

Opposition to the tests has led Oregon’s “education czar,” Nancy Golden, to announce that although students will take the tests this year, the results won’t be used to evaluate teachers or to compare Oregon schools with one another. Of course, these reprieves won’t prevent an expected 60 to 65 percent of students from failing the tests, according to Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton.

Now, a state legislative committee has heard from Dr. Yong Zhao, Director of Global and Online Education at University of Oregon, that high-stakes tests themselves may be putting Oregon on the wrong educational track.

Dr. Zhao has been a critic of both high-stakes testing and the Common Core State Standards themselves. You can watch his entertaining 51-minute presentation to the Senate Education Committee on February 10 below:

He made a number of provocative statements, including:

  • We should promote what he calls Entrepreneur-oriented education.
  • He warns about “side effects” of things like Common Core and high stakes testing.
  • He argues that we shouldn’t homogenize students; we should enhance human talents.
  • Testing rewards compliance; it doesn’t reward asking questions.
  • We shouldn’t make kids ready for Kindergarten, we should make Kindergarten ready for kids. Creative kids aren’t Kindergarten-ready because they don’t conform.
  • In the Chinese village he comes from, Common Core was knowing how to ride a water buffalo. He didn’t do that very well, so he would have been defined as a failure if he’d stayed there.

Lucky for us, Dr. Zhao didn’t stay in China; he came to Oregon where we can hopefully benefit from his wisdom.

The entire hearing video is here, including testimony from Nancy Golden before Dr. Zhao, and testimony after him by Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton. It should be noted that Golden and Saxton were handpicked by now former-Governor Kitzhaber to help promote his flawed Oregon Education Investment Board agenda.

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, Individual Responsiblity, Oregon Government, State Budget, State Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 45 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Greta

    Here’s the deal all you fools who think our schools are so wonderful. Most, if not all, TEACHERS would have trouble with an 8th grade level Mcguffy Reader. The students definitely could not handle it. We have dumbed down so much in the past 50 years we have college grads now who can’t read or write effectively and yet are well above “average”.
    Get a Reader and try it at home if you don’t believe me. Otherwise, don’t say anything until you know the truth for yourself.

  • Sharon

    My child is very, very bright. Unfortunately she doesn’t test well…nerves and such…so I think these tests are very bad…and not a fair reflection of her actual abilities. In fact, she is so smart she tells me she is often bored in class. When it comes to testing, though, she usually doesn’t do well. I have talked to the teachers and they agree that tests are not the best way to see how a child is progressing…the best way is to ask the teacher for their professional opinion and keep independent third party crap out of the equation.
    So we struggle on, knowing Becca’s true potential will never be accurately measured with any test…but in time, she will prove them all wrong as she succeeds in life beyond any current measure of predictability.

    • wfecht

      Get her out of the public school system. look for alternatives.
      here is one.


      Kahn Academy is another online and free.

      hrer is what Bob Chanin Chief legal council for the NEA upon his retirement had to say.

      Chanin: “It is not because we care about children. And it is not because
      we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its
      affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have
      power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to
      pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues….” or the video here


      The only way your child will succeed is outside of the public school system. or you make sure she is in all the advanced placement classes she can stand. My daughter benefited from those. she probably has a better grasp of calculus than I do and i am an engineer.

      Here is a book by an ex-teacher and the history of public schools in the US.

      John Taylor Gatto The Underground History of American Education

      you can get a free copy, chapter by chapter here and
      this is the first chapter.


      And what Greta said abut the Mcguffy Reader is true.

      your statement ” I have talked to the teachers and they agree that tests are not the
      best way to see how a child is progressing…the best way is to ask the
      teacher for their professional opinion and keep independent third party
      crap out of the equation.” is suspect as it is their opinion. the first portion of the statement may very well be true but keep in mind these are people that cannot be fired and have a guaranteed job for life. and what if the teacher has a student similar to yours that they just don’t like, or they do not like the parents, or any other reason to evaluate the student as a poor performer. what will be their evaluation then.

      • Eric Blair

        Have you bothered to read the full quote by Chanin? Think it is important to include the rest of his speech, or are you satisfied with quoting out of context?

        • wfecht

          Yes I have and it is not good.

          • Eric Blair

            And not nearly as bad as you make it out to be.

          • .

            button u r inasmuch a dem sew and sew, erotica blare

  • Right here in Oregon, for almost 40 years, known to Drs. Golden and Zhao, is a school that delivers everyday an education not far removed from Dr. Zhao’s dream. Here’s an article on the Delphian School’s system from the largest K-12 accreditation organization’s publication: https://www.advanc-ed.org/source/new-paradigm-putting-all-students-drivers-seat
    Not only is the Delphian educational system full workable and stable (not invented yesterday and forgotten tomorrow with a generation of students lost in between), but it is very satisfying to teachers and, with inevitable exceptions, sends students home smiling everyday.

  • Myke

    As a middle school math teacher, I recently tested my students using the EZCBM test. They tanked it. I disputed the results, but was talked down by administration. So, I picked problems directly from the test and used them as warm-ups at the beginning of class. The only difference, I didn’t use the multiple choice answers, but instead, had the kids do the actual calculations. They completed the answers with a high level of proficiency. You tell me.

    • Sharon

      They must be like my Becca.

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